(Dishcloth Gourd, Luffa)
Dr. Joe Masabni
Department of Horticulture
Texas AgriLife Extension Service
Chinese okra is in the cucurbit family. Fruits are strongly ribbed, elongated and cylindrical shaped and may be more than a foot long. Plants are vigorous growing vines similar to cucumbers and melons. The smooth luffa which is without ribs is commonly known as dishcloth gourd or sponge gourd.
Plant seed in early spring after all danger of frost. Plant in hills 3 feet apart in rows at least 4 feet apart. For maximum production, trellis the plants. Cultural requirements are the same as for members of the cucurbit family. Fruit for consumption as a vegetable is ready to harvest in about 100 days. Allow another 30 days for the fruit to fully mature if it is to be used as a gourd or as a dishcloth.
Fruit should be 6 to 8 inches in length and tender if it is to be used as a vegetable. Completely dried fruits are desirable if the spongy inside contents are removed and utilized. Fresh fruit can be stored in refrigeration for several weeks; dried fruit can be kept indefinitely.